I came away today from Forecastle with the following two observations:
Since time slots on the different stages generally overlap by about 15 minutes, artists should seriously consider not opening or closing with their best songs. Chances are that the new fans they are trying to attract are either leaving early or arriving late because of someone else’s set.
Some twenty years ago when I still drank beer, Pabst Blue Ribbon was considered nasty and tasted awful. Did something change?
Arriving early on Saturday, I started my day with Austin’s Sarah Jarosz. What began quite promising with a nice banjo sound turned a little too dark and drowsy for me on such a warm afternoon.
Dynamic married duo Shovels & Rope were an exciting visual and musical treat. Their cover of Wreckless Eric’s “(I’d Go the) Whole Wide World” was a pleasant surprise.
The band at the top of my list to see, psych-rockers Foxygen, was the most disappointing. The lead singer’s silliness and desire to be obnoxious was too distracting and annoying. I left early to get a good spot for Dawes.
But at 4:30 p.m., a threat of severe rain caused the festival site to be evacuated. After an hour delay, the gates re-opened, and the schedule was realigned.
Returning from a trip downtown during the break, I managed to miss only a few minutes of Dawes. Their rain-shortened set was absolutely brilliant—the highlight of my day. They are a real crowd pleaser, and their Laurel Canyon sound seems to attract a fan base much older than they are.
I caught just a few songs by Kurt Vile & the Violators who sounded better to me when Kurt wasn’t singing in his gruff and gravelly vocals. They did win the prize for the act with the most hair.
Being retro is cool, but when it comes to their performance, the Alabama Shakes just leave me flat. Can you say “over-rated?”
The Joy Formidable from North Wales played a wonderfully exciting set, and are the Forecastle band whose CDs I can’t wait to buy. Lead singer and guitarist Ritzy Bryan has got a new big fan.
Louisville’s own Jim James plays delightful music, but he always manages to do something creepier every time I see him. Last time with My Morning Jacket it was his cape. Tonight, it was dancing with his bear statue and playing the sax with a towel over his head. Unfortunately, my back gave out so I made an early move to the next stage to find a place to sit.
The only complete set I managed to see today was by visually-stimulating The Flaming Lips. Though somewhat tame by Lips’ standards, tonight’s set saw singer Wayne Coyne standing atop a four-foot platform throughout a set heavy on special lighting effects. I miss the confetti canons!
By now, the power in my camera, phone and body were all exhausted. Things also got mighty crowded with only one band left playing. So I merely listened to The Black Keys from afar and heard their last song on my way out of the front gate. There’s still one more day to come.